The National Trust

A GUEST POST

 

What is the National Trust for?

According to the 1907 Act, the National Trust was established “ . . . for the purposes of promoting the permanent preservation for the benefit of the nation of lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest . . .

But for which nation?

In Scotland, this question was answered in 1931 by the establishment of a distinct legal organization formed “in order to carry out work and confer benefits in Scotland similar to those carried out in England and other parts of Britain.

The National Trust for Scotland is managed by its own board of trustees, elected by and answerable to the Scottish membership.

In Wales, this question finds its answer not in any Act of Parliament or of the Senedd but in the experience of visiting a National Trust property in our country.  I recommend a visit to “Powis [sic] Castle”.

Powis Castle

The magnificent red stone castle near Welshpool was the historic seat of the rulers of Powys – a kingdom with an unbroken history from the Roman civitate of Viroconium (Welsh: Caer Gwrygon; English: Wroxeter), from which the royal court moved to Mathrafal in the early eighth century, and thence to Castell Coch, the red castle, in the early thirteenth century.  Today, this castle continues to be known to the National Trust as “Powis Castle”, with their rigid adherence the place names attributed by English cartographers of the nineteenth century (Carnarvon, Llanelly, Powis) and in resolute opposition to the norms of Welsh orthography.

The castle remained in the hands of the descendants of the Welsh royal dynasty of Mathrafal until the late sixteenth century, when it was purchased by a branch of the powerful Welsh lordly family of the Herberts who remained in possession until the early nineteenth century.

Is the Castle presented by the National Trust in the context of this extraordinary and enchanting history?  The thousand year story of the kingdom of Powys and the descendants of its ruling dynasty?  Nope.  Seemingly of no interest to the National Trust.

The main exhibition presents some of the loot acquired by Clive of India, father of the British Raj, famed for his atrocities, maladministration and self-enrichment.  This notorious nabob’s connection with the Castle?  His son acquired it (by marriage) in the early nineteenth century.

Try asking for a guidebook for the Castle in Welsh as I did during my visit, and you will receive a response from the National Trust staff that is as replete with scorn and derision as it is unproductive.

There is no doubting for which nation’s benefit this property is being preserved by the National Trust.  For the fellow-countrymen of Robert Clive, son of Market Drayton, and squire of Esher in Surrey.

Powys map

As noted above, Scotland’s heritage under the custodianship of the National Trust for Scotland is managed by a board of trustees elected by the Scottish membership of the NTS.  The guiding principle by which the NTS carries out its mandate is expressed as follows:-

“Scotland’s rich cultural heritage is not only an invaluable economic and social resource, it is what gives Scotland’s people a sense of belonging and identity; as such it is one of our nation’s most precious assets.”  Read it for yourself.

How much longer do we have to wait in Wales for our own extraordinary historical, architectural, cultural and environmental heritage to be preserved, managed and presented by an organization answerable to our nation, and properly equipped and informed to fulfil its mandate for the benefit of our nation?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ End ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Jac adds . . .

I agree with everything our guest writer says, and I would go further, adding that a nation with the interpretation of its past entrusted to those with an interest in effacing all memory of that past is as good a definition of colonialism as I can think of.

Some reading this might argue, ‘Ah! but don’t forget, we have Cadw‘. Really! Cadw is little more than English Heritage (West). And then we have the regional archaeological trusts, staffed with third-rate English diggers and their teams of willing young female volunteers, always looking for evidence of Anglo-Saxon settlement.

Cadw red

Returning to the National Trust, it’s not simply what it currently owns that angers me but its perennial acquisitiveness. I’m thinking now of the regular appeals for money to buy a Snowdonia farm – in case someone buys it, packs it up, and takes it home with them? Think about it – we are expected to buy a piece of our homeland for an English organisation! (Yes, that’s another definition of colonialism, and of stupidity on the part of those Welsh who fall for it.)

It is almost twenty years since we voted for devolution, and little if anything has changed in the fundamental relationship between Wales and England. The English National Trust is proof of that. At the very least we need something comparable to the National Trust for Scotland, if only as a stop-gap measure.

This nation should have no trust in the English National Trust or any similar body.

Regular readers might remember that I mentioned Powis Castle in a piece I wrote back in 2012 on nearby Dolforwyn. Here’s a link.

UPDATE 22.08.2016: The page from the Cadw website shown above was very quickly removed. I copied and posted the image late on Sunday night and when I checked at 11am on Monday, there it was – gone!

Cadw sorry

67 thoughts on “The National Trust

  1. The NT is indeed a rather strange creature, sort of a quasi-official body, even though supposedly answerable to its own membership. It has at least some special statutory powers not available to ordinary landowners … they might be worth looking into?

    —–

    With regard to place names though, do you not protest too much and run the risk of making yourself look ridiculous? Many places in the UK and around the world have different names or different spellings of their names according to the language being used. Surely you´ve heard the one about the student travelling around Europe on some kind of rover ticket, who went to Italy and stopped off in a place called Firenze. She really enjoyed her few days there, wondered why she´d never heard of the place before, and only several weeks after she´d been back home did she realise she´d been in Florence. (I´m told this really happened btw, no doubt more than once!)

    So why should Wales be any different? E.g. is capital of Scotland Edimbourg? Edinburgh? Embro? Dùn Éideann? Dindein? Caeredin? … If York becomes Efrog in Welsh, what´s wrong with Caernarfon becoming Caernarvon in English, an altogether minor change compared to some?

    1. di-enw

      Instead of taking the approach of setting readers of this blog an assignment. In this case – So why should Wales be any different? – you be so good and up front to give your opinion as to what you think regarding this issue.
      Other readers could then question you on your opinion rather than just have to justify their opinions to you.

      1. I´d say it is often a matter of political expediency, but since I´m neither a Welshman nor resident in Wales, I´m in no position to weigh up the rather fine judgments that might be involved. As an interested (and I hope reasonably informed?) outsider, I thought it interesting to ask the question. But it´s really none of my bloody business to suggest an answer.

        Renaming is common enough when nations become independent, especially where places have been named after conquerors / oppressors etc. and native names obliterated. (Where now is Salisbury, Rhodesia?) Wales however is not independent, and alas (from my POV) shows no great enthusiasm in that direction. It would be nice if the Welsh versions of names predominated within Wales, but that would only make good sense if a large proportion of the population were Welsh-speakers. Cyw ac ŵy?

        1. di-enw

          “I´m in no position to weigh up the rather fine judgments that might be involved”
          That hasn’t stopped you weighing up the judgements of others who by your definition are in a better position to comment than you are.

          You’ve now provided your opinion basically
          Either Wales needs to be independent before( I assume you mean more) Welsh place names are usedwhere English/ Anglicised ones are currently.
          However Wales isn’t independent yet many hundreds of place-names have already been changed back to the original Welsh version and many others now appear bilingually.
          Why is now the time to stop this change? Your reasons please.

          Or there needs to be a large proportion of Welsh speakers before (more) Welsh place names are used.
          What are your reasons for that? The number of Welsh speakers alone doesn’t fit your seemingly pro Welsh stance as your argument would then have to apply to predominantly English speaking areas of Wales and your logic dictate that Welsh place names be Anglicised or replaced with English versions.
          But if you insist that numbers are the important thing put a figure on what a “large proportion” is and what should happen to the place names in areas that are below that figure.

          1. You seem to want to argue just for the sake of it. As I´ve said, I cannot and should not make these decisions. What I can see though is that present policy seems to be a bit of a mess … or is there some underlying system involved that I´ve failed to appreciate?

            1. di-enw

              Whatever makes you think that you’re being asked to make a decision.

              You’ve provided your opinion but it’s clear that you want to avoid exposing your rationale that supports your opinion to criticism. So you hide once again behind a question.
              You’ve given your view – re-introduction/use of Welsh place names should be linked to independence and proportion of Welsh speakers. Now justify it.

    2. JE Lloyd

      The spelling of Powys is settled, both as a Welsh kingdom that emerged in the post-Roman period, and as its successor, the modern county of Powys. You will not find a historian of the last three generations, English or Welsh, who fails to respect conventional welsh orthography in the spelling of this name. The NT is the eccentric aberration.

      The rendering of Powys as “Powis” is as deviant today as the use of Rice (in place of Rhys), Carnarvon (in place of Caernarfon), or Leoline (in place of Llywelyn).

      1. ‘Leoline’ is one I’d almost forgotten. A gem!

        I agree with various points made in this exchange. The world is full of examples of names changing due to conquest and / or population change. Danzig of East Prussia to Polish Gdansk, for example. And of course cities, rivers, etc., go by different names in different languages.

        Yet the English establishment – with the BBC often leading the way – has no problem agreeing to changing names such as Bombay to Mumbai, Peking to Beijing, but it seems to depend on the size of the country, trade considerations, and other factors that might confer benefit on England.

        Wales offers an entirely different example. There being no reason whatsoever for England to give a toss about our sensitivities. On the contrary, from an English, or Unionist, perspective, Welsh places names serve to remind us all that Wales is a different country, with a different language spoken by almost the entire population just 200 years ago, which might make anglicisation desirable.

        This anglicisation of Welsh names has been going on since the Angles, Saxons and the rest, arrived here some 1600 years ago. It explains the proliferation of rivers called ‘Avon’ in England – the descriptive noun has been retained but the name itself lost.

        As I say, this has been a gradual – but rarely deliberately hostile – process. It’s what happens when a large country with an overpowering cultural presence is in an uncaring relationship with a smaller neighbour. But there might be a way of making people more aware of the issue, using an argument so often employed against the Welsh language.

        I live not far from Aberdyfi. Yet the signs give two spellings, the other being ‘Aberdovey’, which is gibberish (though defended on the spurious grounds that it’s the ‘English spelling’). So why not just use the correct, Welsh spelling? Not even the stupidest tourist looking for ‘Aberdovey’ would fail to make the connection. And there are countless similar examples across the land.

        Personally, I would go further (but then, I’m an ‘extremist’!). I would correct those absurd corruptions that give us names like Llantwit Major. Who the fuck was Saint Twit? The name is, and should be universally recognised as, Llanilltud Fawr.

        A campaign to get rid of the Aberdoveys and Llantwits would satisfy the patriots among us and also those who object to the ‘expense’ of bilingual signs. (For it’s well known that the latter have no other objection to bilingual signs.) What’s not to like?

        1. treforus

          It will be very hard to draw the line. I couldn’t agree more about the examples you give but Caerdydd and Castell Nedd for Cardiff and Neath seems to me to be an impossible pitch. Do you ditch the evolution of the 1000 year old Norse name of Sven’s Ey for Abertawe ? It could end up a colossal own goal without the consent of the locality.

          1. Agreed. I concentrated on easily recognised corruptions that would cause little problem with reverting to the original, such as Aberdovey, and names so ludicrous as to be insulting, such as Llantwit. Swansea is not a corruption of Abertawe, it comes from a different origin entirely. Though Neath and Nedd . . .

          2. Abertawe, the estury/mouth of the R. Tawe, is at least meaningful, even I´d imagine to most English speakers (there are many other names like this around Britain).

            I hadn´t know the origin of ´Swansea´ (Wot no swans!) but now you´ve explained it it makes perfect sense, although most -sea names usually go back to ¨X´s island¨ (just didn´t expect it in Wales somehow). But then are we not talking about what were once two different (adjacent?) settlements. This is just like Dublin (Black Pool) the Norse port, and Baile-Átha-Cliath (Hurdle Ford Ville) the native settlement at the lowest crossing point. So in neither case is one a messed-up version of the other, both have run in parallel for centuries, with I imagine the two settlements growing together in each case.

            And IMHO there is little difference apart from accentuation in the sound of Cardiff and Caerdydd (especially in the local Welsh pronunciation) so I wouldn´t expect any real practical difficulty there.

            1. Jeremy

              Cardiff and Caerdydd are probably both derived from Caerdyf, so they are both Welsh in reality, in one of John Speeds map it is spelt Cardife so the derivation of both seems to be indicated. But coming from the city I am happy to use both.

        2. If the BritNats that seem to mostly run the UK were indeed genuine BritNats rather than EngNats, we might expect them to honour the ¨Senior Language of Britain¨ throughout the realm, or at least anywhere where Welsh speakers were reasonably likely to go.

          So rather than stopping short at the somewhat arbitrary modern border, we´d see Welsh signs in those few Welsh enclaves that are technically in England; in border market towns like Ludlow and Leominster, not to mention Chester and Bristol; and in major cities, at least in stations, tourist attractions etc. in Liverpool, Brum, London … Well why the hell not?

          Either this is a United Kingdom or it´s just Greater (Little) Engerland. Time we put the buggers on the spot 😉

      2. My mistake re ´Powis´. As for ´Ca(e)rnavon´ I´m sure I´ve seen pictures this on of dual language signs, likewise maps I had when I was a kid (I was mad on maps then) used that spelling. When exactly I wonder did the OS change over and how did it happen? There might be a lesson there for Welsh promotion? There are also issues within Welsh itself, e.g. Tref-y-clawdd vs Trefyclo. You can see both in that town.

  2. How about a petition for the Assembly petitions committee? Probably won’t be of much use but we can then find out where ‘they’ stand on the matter.

    1. JE Lloyd

      You might like to Email the Culture, Sport and Media Division of the Welsh Government at: wag-en@mailuk.custhelp.com.

      The guiding principle of the National Trust for Scotland (established in 1931) is expressed as follows: “Scotland’s rich cultural heritage is not only an invaluable economic and social resource, it is what gives Scotland’s people a sense of belonging and identity; as such it is one of our nation’s most precious assets.”

      Does the Welsh Government have any plans to promote legislation to establish a National Trust for Wales that is equipped with the historical and cultural knowledge and understanding to discharge its mandate for the benefit of the Welsh nation?

      If not, why does the Welsh Government consider Wales’s rich cultural heritage a less precious asset of the Welsh nation than Scotland’s heritage?

    1. JE Lloyd

      You might start by Emailing the NT direct with the following questions:

      The guiding principle of the National Trust for Scotland (established in 1931) is expressed as follows: “Scotland’s rich cultural heritage is not only an invaluable economic and social resource, it is what gives Scotland’s people a sense of belonging and identity; as such it is one of our nation’s most precious assets.”

      Does the NT have any plans to establish specific organization in Wales that is equipped with the historical and cultural knowledge and understanding to discharge its mandate for the benefit of the Welsh nation?

      If not, why does the NT consider Wales’s rich cultural heritage a less precious asset of the Welsh nation than Scotland’s heritage?

      The Email address of the NT is: enquiries@nationaltrust.org.uk

  3. dafis

    NT, whether UK, Scottish, Welsh or whatever was a fine idea but like most of these well meaning initiatives it has been allowed to grow way beyond reasonable boundaries. While buying the odd old ruin or castle might be worthy of support, I do not see any good reason for ownership of working farms or a normal sized family home. So, the mandate must be clipped back and assets disposed. Then reconstitute the remainder into local national entities so that we don’t have this excessive gentrified Anglo influence and all the baggage that goes with it.

  4. dafis

    while you still have Welsh people in Wales openly criticising communities like Ebbw Vale for giving the “establishment elites” a smack in the chops at the Euro ballot box, it is not surprising that the NT thrives in Cymru. As I said above, NT was originally a good idea, as the Common Market might have been, but a cluster of “growth orientated busybodies” got their hands on it and we are where we are today. Same goes for Housing Associations, County Councils, Health Authorities – the list is endless, run by a mix of the politically motivated, self seeking chancers, and power obsessed all sharing a common characteristic – they don’t give a fuck for the communities they purport to serve

  5. Ian Perryman

    The NT has a lot of problems – one of which is money.
    They will peddle their assets to what they see as the most lucrative market, which is usually tourism.
    As most of these tourists come from England they’re going to be more interested in English Association rather than a detailed local Welsh history. Hence the emphasis on the Clive collection and the gardens.

    That said however, most NT properties based around any form of house, including the ones in England, seem to peddle the ‘upstairs – downstairs’ Downton Abbey lifestyle sort of approach.

    I would guess there’s two reasons for this. Firstly the nostalgia effect (most visitors not realising that they would have been the peasants downstairs) and secondly that this was the sort of condition it was in when it was handed over to the NT.

    Basically the NT aren’t interested in history, only preservation, so they will endeavour to try to keep or ‘restore’ a building to the last state they imagine it would have been just before it declined and got dumped on them. (usually in lieu of tax).

    I suppose it’s possible (I’m guessing here) that there may be some legal obligation that restricts them to this.

    So little actually gets changed – including the name – no matter how unsuitable or offensive, but simply ‘restored’ to the English middle classes’ idea of the good old days.

    To be fair to the NT they do try (not very hard admittedly) to promote some things in Wales.
    Powis Castle for example has a Welsh language Website – which is almost entirely in Welsh (not the Google translate rubbish either); and the NT do send out annual booklets (not the handbook) to contributors in Wales with a Welsh language version included.

    https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cy_gb/castell-a-gardd-powis

    However the basic problem remains that the NT is a middle class English organisation which has grown into a quasi-governmental body with its own agenda to preserve and restore.

    The big disappointment is Cadw.
    Cadw is supposed to be the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, but seems to see itself these days as more of an arm of the tourist industry. Things like Lego Workshops at Caerphilly Castle show the trend.

    http://cadw.gov.wales/about/news/lego-workshops-return-to-caerphilly/?lang=en

    It is Cadw’s job to step up and place things in their Welsh heritage perspective. Every NT property in Wales should have a linked Cadw portfolio attached. We need to know why this isn’t happening.
    Perhaps they’re too busy playing with their Lego sets?

  6. Myfanwy

    Yes indeed, if the Scottish established their own National Trust back in 1931, why are the Welsh still not in control of their own Cultural Heritage, through a National Trust for Wales? Wales is not a region or County of England, and as a clearly unique Nation, should have control over all it’s institutions, in the same way as the Scottish have, why is Wales seen differently in this respect? Scotland has it’s own legal system, it’s own education system and is far more in control of it’s Cultural Heritage, isn’t it about time Wales was respected in the same way ?

    As for the National Trust, it doesn’t get much more tweedy and middle England than that, so it is no wonder a very English perception of Culture is being imposed on Wales. The National Trust is renown for buying up cottages etc, usually taking the soul out of places by over restoring them, so they appeal to the taste of mainly middle class English people, who rent the cottages out as holiday homes. As an institution, the National Trust mirrors wider society in England, with aristocrats and the upper classes still holding positions in the directorship, with the usual hierarchy further down the pecking order, with poorly paid workers and volunteers at the bottom.

    Wales need to break free from the shackles imposed upon us, from English institutions, whose purpose is to impose English values and ultimately assimilate Wales as a region of England.

  7. Big Gee

    We should put the work of the NT into perspective. What are the historic roots of many of the ‘Big Houses’ here in Wales that they are the supposed guardians of? In reality they are the outward symbols of a previous age of colonial dominance and the mistreatment of the local, poor peasants. When someone could be transported to Australia for 14 years for poaching a bit of food to feed his family (a life sentence in effect, because the poor bugger could never make it back). At the same time the local ‘Lord of the manor’ lived in lavish opulence and wasted most of the food that was shot for fun by him and his mates on shooting weekends. In between molesting the poor fourteen year old girls that worked and lived as slaves ‘downstairs’. I believe there’s a strong argument for wiping out all memory of it – as our Irish cousins did.

    By the start of the Irish revolutionary period in 1919, the Big House had become symbolic of the dominance of the Anglo-Irish class in Ireland at the expense of the ‘native’ population, particularly in southern Ireland.

    The Anglo-Irish, as a class, were generally opposed to the notions of Irish independence and held key positions in the British administration of Ireland (sounds familiar doesn’t it? Re. English civil servants rnning our Senedd). The Irish nationalist narrative maintained that the land of Irishmen had been illegally stolen from them by the landowning aristocracy, who had mostly arrived in Ireland as Protestant settlers of The Crown during the late 16th and 17th centuries (still happening in Wales). The Irish Big House was at the administrative centre of the estates of the landowners, as well as being the family seat from which the Anglo-Irish exerted their political control over the island. Very much the same scenario here after the Enclosures Act, when wealthy Englishmen did deals over brandy in their clubs, regarding which piece of common land both in England & Wales they could buy cheaply and distribute to their cronies. Land that had for centuries fed the local poverty stricken peasants and provided grazing for their animals, and peat to warm them in winter. I was brought up under that shadow of history on Mynydd Bach. My family on both my mother & father’s side were all born in Trefenter – as I was. See Rhyfel Y Sais Bach.

    Unlike most of us (excepting some pockets – like the wilder ones of Mynydd Bach), the Irish ‘werin’ burnt & demolished the ‘Big Houses’, and used the stones to build cottages for the poor. They’ve always had a stronger backbone than us. We still pay money to the English National Trust for the privilege of walking around relics to our miserable past!

    1. If it happened it should be remembered. Remembered, NOT Celebrated!

      Land Reform is an ongoing issue now in Scotland. You might want to look at what´s wanted and what´s being proposed by the government. A source of ideas and practical inspiration if nothing more.

    2. Myfanwy

      A decade ago, the National Trust decided it was politically correct, to begin discussing the origins of much of the wealth of the English landowners, who built their stately homes from the ill gotten gains of the slave trade and rightly so. It is telling though, that the National Trust still airbrushes over the history of the Welsh people, if there was full recognition of England’s brutal treatment of the Welsh and of the acquisition of their land, as has been the case in Ireland, then real changes could be made, particularly with regard to education. The burnt out shells of Stately Homes in Ireland are a dramatic statement of their struggles, but the Irish did have more distance from their oppressors. Through establishment institutions, such as the National Trust, Welsh history has been erased, it is long over due, that we reclaim our own history and the truth was told.

  8. Jeremy

    This article raises problems that I have always felt and there are certainly numerous other people who recognise the problem but we just do not do anything about it. Most of us just want a nice safe place to take the kids or Naina and Taid, a drink and a piece of cake, and not to think too deeply on the politics or history. Yet it still rankles.
    What to do?
    Now they have more modern membership cards you tend to get a e-mail asking your opinion of the visit. So perhaps the first thing is to return the survey and make the points regarding naming or history. If enough people keep it up it may start to have an affect.
    Next lobby the Welsh members on the governing body in an organised manner and amend their constitution to reflect the history and cultural heritage of the place and area.
    Get political pressure for the seperation of the Trust into National Units Wales, England and N. Ireland (not really a nation but a bit of one).

    However for that to happen we really need an education system in Wales that actually teaches Welsh history and not just WWII or the Tudors. I think that brings us back to the Labour Party in Wales but not of Wales.

    1. Labour in Wales makes me think of a very large dun (= red-ish) cow, happily chewing the cud whilst completely blocking the road you want to drive down. What are you to do? It´s much too big to physically pull out of the way, and you can shout at it till you´re out of breath but it scarcely bats an eyelid. You´re tempted to give it a good kick, then another … but then someone will deplore your violence … WTF can you do?

        1. Wait for the sacred Labour moo-cow to die? You sound just like this chap (see closing remarks) :

          http://ifanmj.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/the-welsh-national-movement-or-dont.html

          There are two very obvious risks associated with this ¨everything comes to he who waits¨ approach :

          1. There´s no guarantee that ¨things can only get better¨ (now where have I heard that?) especially under the New Tories, who seem perfectly able and willing to think the unthinkable. In other words there´s no guarantee of ever increasing libralisation, devolution, democracy etc. Welsh national institutions could easily be abolished or combined with their English equivalents in the future, no doubt in the interests of ´efficiency´.

          2. Even if devo, in the broadest sense, does proceed at its historical snail´s pace, will anything recognisable as Wales, in terms of language, culture etc. still survive on that glorious day when indy is finally achieved? Or will it be an empty victory, home-rule for a look-alike mini-England-shire?

          So if the poor beast is slowly wasting away, perhaps the least distressing thing all round would be to put her out of her misery. But who is going to swing the poll-axe?

    2. Big Gee

      Absolutely spot-on Jeremy. Especially the bit where you say “. .. . we really need an education system in Wales that actually teaches Welsh history and not just WWII or the Tudors” Amen to that!

      As it happens I’m in the process of contacting Paul Boniface, the secretary of the NT, to ask for the e-mail addresses of it’s ‘Council’ (over 50 members in total). The Council is the body that, in their words, ‘holds the board of trustees and the other committees to account”. If I get the e-mail addresses I’ll make them available for anyone who wishes to express their concerns to them.

      I won’t go into details here, but I’ve had a long on-going battle with the NT since 2011. They have an estate of over 700 acres, (Llanerchaeron Mansion is a Palladian style Georgian Villa, it was donated to them by John Powell Ponsonby Lewes along with 760 acres of grounds in 1989). Just under half of the estate land, with a farm, they lease out and 400 acres of which they have under their feet at Llanerchaeron, which they just play and do nothing of substance with. They syphon agricultural grants into it to do nothing. On top of that they’re awash with money they’ve syphoned from the Big Lottery fund – which is squandered in all directions, like new vehicles with pretty paint jobs saying that they are funded by the Big Lottery to maintain wild flower meadows. They bought a £2,000 polytunnel that they’ve never used, and a £12,000 muck-spreader that they bought new about a decade ago and left to rot in a corner of a field – it’s never been used and hasn’t had an ounce of muck put into it.

      Our community allotments group, (the Aeron Vale Allotments Trust) which is a charity that I chair to help others in the community to acquire land to grow food for their families on 250m sq. plots, and to distribute surpluses to the aged and those in food welfare need in our community, requested a disused and derelict two acre field to establish an allotment site on the very outskirts of the estate. (You can view the field by clicking HERE) We were flatly turned down. We’ve been negotiating with them since 2011, but they stubbornly refuse to budge. We’ve taken it as far as the Director General (Dame Helen Ghosh) but nothing. It’s a disgrace.

      So you can imagine what I think of the National Trust on more levels than one.

      1. di-enw

        The National Trust make a big deal about their allotments programme.
        https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/allotments-and-growing-spaces
        Also just outside Llandeilo alongside the A40 to Carmarthen there are what look like allotments on their Dinefwr estate.

        If you haven’t already it might be worth contacted groups across the NT’s realm and creating a case questioning the NT why Llanerchaeron doesn’t meet the criteria the NT has used elsewhere when granting permission or even encouraging allotments on their property.

        However I imagine the groups that form allotment partnerships with the NT are likely to be pro NT which is likely to be a factor for the NT.

        1. Brychan

          I think you’ll find that the produce from Dinefwr estate allotments ends up on the shelves of an eco-shop run by Sara Tommerup. She’s from Denmark who has also established Agroecology Land Trust as a Co-operative and Community Benefit Society. She arrived in Carmarthenshire after graduating from CAT with a masters degree in Sustainability. Her partner is James Scrivens.

          https://westwalesnewsreview.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/photo-2-sara-tommerup-and-james-scrivens.jpg?w=292&h=300
          Tommerup and Scrivens putting their Trust in vegetables and mushrooms.

          They recently got a £30,000 and grant from the Welsh Government, under the enterprise name of ‘Black Mountain food Hub’. It’s a railway shed outside Llandeilo station. They also plan to sell produce from land formally owned by the Forestry Commission and its ownership has somehow transferred to Tommerup/Scrivens from Natural Resources Wales .

          https://mutuals.fsa.gov.uk/SocietyDetails.aspx?Number=7366&Suffix=CBS

          The enterprise was not registered until 12th July 2016, yet they managed to put in an application for residential eco-lodges to Carmarthenshire/National Park Authority four months earlier. They also had an ‘open day’ on 20th June 2016, which also pre-dates the enterprise registration.

          https://www.permaculture.org.uk/noticeboard/event/general-event/red-pig-farm-open-day-2015-06-20

          The commercial name of the enterprise is “Red Pig Farm” but I doubt if this is the original name for the land in question but at least there are no happy donkeys, just red pigs.

          https://agroecologicallandinitiative.wordpress.com/red-pig-farm/

          I’d be interested to know (a) when did National Trust Enterprises enter into a trading arrangement with the Black Mountain food Hub, (b) how land previously owned by the Forestry Commission has been donated to Tommerup and Scrivens and (c) how an application for planning permission can be processed in Carmarthenshire many months prior to the applicant being registered as a going concern?

          Llanerchaeron doesn’t meet the criteria because it’s an application by Welsh people, native to the area, does not involve suspect land deals, doesn’t involve pre-dated planning applications, and does not rely on cash handouts from a Welsh Government seduced by eco sound-bites and bullshit (even though a muck spreader is already on site).

          1. I am aware of this curious situation, and am currently working on a post to explain it – as best I can – to a wider audience.

            1. gaynor

              I contacted Fferm Mochyn Coch asking the man what the hell that name was about, had a polite reply stating that it was called this by previous owner. I told him he should try and find an apporpriate welsh name. Seems a bit pie in the sky, but theland is owned privately its not forestry and they are looking for shareholders to buy into this project. The allotments in Llandeilo , are mainly in hands of misc locals, I never heard of Llandeilo food Hub, there a railway hub – a container in the station, placed there by Arriva 30 odd years after they demolished the railway station and refresh! It was closed on Monday of the Royal Welsh – so fat lot of use that is. Is there a food hub in Canolfan MYnydd Du in Brynaman, would seem more likely they wld have a food hub there being an” impoverished” area, they eat polenta in Llandeilo.

          2. I seem to remember from way back that you don´t actually have to own a piece of land to apply for planning permission, though obviously as a rule I would be pointless to pay the fees and go to the trouble if you couldn´t reap the benefit. Assuming they had some deal in mind, that would give them the use of the land, then an early planning application might be quite sensible, simply to avoid delays. So basically, there´s probably nothing at all dodgy going on regarding this particular point.

            1. Brychan

              Planning consent is held by the site. A developer can obtain planning consent prior to ownership, but once planning is awarded the value of the site increases by at least a factor of ten, even more inside the national park. Since 2014, a pre-application stage exists, to which there must be ‘expert consultation’. This consultation is from NRW. This change introduced so ‘expert opinion’ is provided at an earlier stage. Forestry Commission Wales, the original freeholder, of course, has been absorbed into NRW. So NRW is providing advise on planning to a site that it already owns to promote a pre-arranged deal. An inside job if there ever is one. I think the pigs are a ‘natural’ method of site clearance after felling, so would also be dependant on inside knowledge of the felling cycle and site availability. All planning consent has an expiry date. A commercial relationship must have already existed, possibly as an option-to-buy lease as part of an out-sourced logging operation but this would have meant that NRW did not offer the site for disposal at the most lucrative value for the taxpayer. Particularly as the surveyors valuation of the freehold could not possibly been done until after planning consent is granted. It should be noted that NRW also absorbed/castrated the Countryside Commission responsible for conservation. The chronology will be important. The public, like the tree stumps, have been treated like mushrooms. Was the site offered for general auction, either before of after planning?

  9. Myfanwy

    Amazing, they have missed the perfect opportunity in PR terms, to show that the National Trust is in touch and supports the local community with initiatives like the allotment group, with plenty of good publicity and good will, on a piece of land they wouldn’t miss. This kind of behaviour only proves that they are still an entrenched, establishment outfit, only concerned with the acquisition of wealth for the few, which carries on a very English tradition!

  10. Brychan

    It’s not so much the ‘mansions’ that concern me, it’s the landholdings.

    Up until WW2 the National Trust was a small preservation society for ‘quirky’ cottages and wooden sheds in Sussex once used by romantic authors. It had neither the funds nor the opportunity to buy the landed estates. It was Acts of the Westminster House in 1939 and subsequently in 1953, that allowed the owners of the landed estates, mainly in England, to enter into a tax avoidance scheme, to donate property to the National Trust as substitute for unpaid taxes. This is how the ‘grand houses’ fell into their hands. It allowed the wealthy to avoid their tax bills, and since then the begging bowls have been out to ‘preserve’ the heritage of the English aristocracy.

    In Wales the ‘footprint’ of the National Trust is somewhat different to England.

    Since the occupation, where the landed estates were captured and held by the crown, the monarch subsequently donated these holdings to lesser English nobility for services rendered, like slavery capital and foreign wars. In this way, large tracts of land often ‘non-contiguous holdings’, farming estates owned by a distant lord were used in the tax avoidance handovers to the National Trust. A sort of ‘here’s a bit of Wales just call it quits to the taxman.’

    This is how the National Trust own almost all land from Abergwyngregyn to Beddgelert in the north, Solfach to Stackpole in the West and holdings such as Abergwesyn in the south. The National Trust in Wales is effectively a foreign lordship, administered by the English fleece jacketed middle classes to use as a weekend playground.

    Every time they want a new ‘glamping site’ or a ‘footpath repaired’ off goes the begging bowl to the Welsh Government, cos we’re a charity say the National Trust’. The Labour Party in the Bae get the chequebook out but never repost with ‘you’re only the owner because you didn’t pay towards the war debt, or NHS start up costs’. The cash is still outstanding.

    We need legislation in Wales to recover the NT landholdings to a body answerable to the people of Wales. They can keep the crumbling mansions, although a spot of green paint might improve the décor. As for Cadw, I was asked to leave from Caernarfon Castle many years ago on a school trip. I asked the guide – “Which gate did the English hang the Jews from?” A kind of history they don’t want you to know. Perhaps the National Trust can explain why there are bronze elephants and paintings of shot Asians in deepest Powys?

    The National Trust holding in Wales is exemplified by the exception. The Marquees of Bute could not indulge the grand tax dodge, as National Trust for Scotland could not own Castell Coch. This was the first ‘modern’ construction going direct to the Secretary of State (now Cadw) alongside their much older ‘worthless ruins’.

  11. jim

    They probably dont need allotments in Ceredigion most people have gardens. Anyway back to the NT in Englandhsire or as we know , Carmarthenshire/Sir Gar. I have been complaining on social media bout the Trust’s total non use of the Welsh language in their social media campaigns in the county ( compare it to Gwynedd) . It has been ignored, or the best answer i got was ” we are looking for voulnteers who speak Welsh to do that”. Most of the jobs in area given to English people, local people who have volunteered been ignored, passed over or never responded to by managmenet. Management mainly bunch of volunteers who then go on and aquire jobs,lining their own pockets and building their own little English empires, – and with no skill in management. Carmarthenshre NT is a mess, speak to the volunteers.

    1. A phenomenon I’ve encountered many times. You have an English boss or English core team and they then recruit their friends or import staff from England. Of course, they see nothing wrong in this, yet tend to be vociferous in complaining about Welsh people having too many jobs or, the favourite, the Welsh language being used to ‘discriminate’ against them.

      The whole issue of employment is one that needs to be addressed because I believe that Welsh people should have first call on jobs in Wales, but we are losing out in so many ways. For example, Englandandwales bodies like the Post Office, railways, etc have ‘internal transfer’ systems which often means that vacancies in Wales are filled by people transferring from England rather than by local recruitment.

      And it’s not just major employers. A few years ago I had cause to do business with a small garage in the Aberystwyth area. The garage owned by an Englishman. He told me he was expanding, so I asked him who he was taking on. The answer: ‘It’s a bloke who owns a holiday home close to me, he wants to move here permanently’.

    2. Big Gee

      Farmers in Ceredigion don’t need allotments. The crachach only have flowers & lawns & pay others to tend them. Then you have the masses in the towns who DON’T have gardens, and need allotments to grow fruit & veg. Not everyone in Ceredigion is a landowner, and land for cultivation is extremely hard to come by – as we’ve experienced in Aberaeron. Besides, allotments provide more than just a ‘garden’ it is an intricate part of working class culture and an allotment site is an aid to community adhesion.

      You’re quite right about the employed & volunteers with the NT in Wales. The volunteers are mostly immigrants who’ve retired here and feel good about doing so called ‘charity’ work for the NT or are younger and have moved here without a job. Most of the estate managers are English and just like supermarkets employ English immigrants and overlook or look down their noses at the natives.

      The NT’s support of allotments is a publicity stunt to help their image. In reality, the decision lies with the local manager. In our case, Paul Boland the manager, when asked if he had something against allotments, his answer speaks volumes “I have nothing against allotments, but NOT in MY back yard” he said! When the matter was taken to the Director for Wales (Justin Albert) he backed his manager up. When taken further to Dame Helen Ghosh the Director General, she backed her director & manager – the little twerp who has an attitude towards allotments and (in his eyes) the flat cap mob that tend them.

      1. di-enw

        Perhaps the Herald journalists at their Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire editions could be convinced do a compare and contrast piece between the Dinefwr allotment and Llaneraeron non allotment situations. There might be some interesting differences between the memberships profiles of the two groups.

  12. di-enw

    @ Brychan
    “We need legislation in Wales to recover the NT landholdings to a body answerable to the people of Wales.”
    I can’t see much support for effectively nationalizing NT land from the public or any government. Also as well as holdings given in lieu of death duties there are others that are genuine gifts and others that have been bought because of donations by the public.
    I don’t know exactly how a NT for Wales could extract itself from the current NT but I’m sure it’s not impossible.

    “They can keep the crumbling mansions,”
    One of the issues facing a Wales NT is that there are relatively few pay to entry NT properties in Wales and a Wales NT, like the Scottish one, could only survive financially with a reciprocal free entry scheme for members in England.

    I understand that the arrangement between the NT and Powis Castle is remarkably favourable to the occupants. They get use of much of the property for much of the time for themselves alone and the gardens maintained for free. If this is the case then this agreement and any other would need to be re-negotiated to prevent a NT wales from being lumbered with home care for the landed gentry.

    1. Brychan

      It’s not the Ponsenby Smyth Pennant types that’s the problem. They will eventually die. The real problem is the milking of the system as a third sector institution, dipping into public funding.

      The National Trust has scant regard for the environment in Wales. An example is Ogwen cottage. The National Trust purchased the freehold two years ago from Birmingham City Council. It’s bid was dressed up as a ‘wildlife preservation project’. However, this year they are due to transfer freehold ownership to the ‘Outward Bound Trust’.

      They want to change this…

      to candy floss and kayaks.

      Completion of the transfer is conditional on permission to convert the ‘cottage’ from a 36 bunk accommodation to a 120 sleeper bedroom accommodation. Will they be getting grants for supplying duvets for Artic Char?

        1. Brychan

          They must be. The site is worth a million or more. Outward Bound don’t have the cash, unless this year they have either received a huge donation or got a grant, or perhaps raised finance as a loan (mortgage) on their Aberdyfi property. You can check this with the land registry.

  13. Big Gee

    They have very deep pockets when it suits them. Read this:
    http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/3million-rhossili-car-park-snapped-national-trust/story-26187690-detail/story.html#comments

    Only £3 MILLION for a postage sized car park overlooking Rhosili (Rhossili in English – as we’re picking up on gibberish Anglo place names in Cymru) beach! By the way it’s the same Paul Boland that I mentioned above. Can’t give away a derelict field that hasn’t been used for years, but jumps at the chance of forking that sort of money out for a tiny car park on behalf of his paymasters!

  14. Anonymous

    Wot I luv best about welsh civic nationalism is we can all call ourselves welsh from day one then apply for grants to open tattoo and piercing studios in places like Towyn where there aint one

    Jac says: I have removed the sender’s name that came with this comment because there’s a possibility it may not be from the purported source. The same applies to the further comments today from ‘Anonymous’. .

    1. dafis

      I hope that you are on here just taking the piss, but what you say is largely true. Indeed a tattoo studio would be far less damaging than some of the large scale rip offs perpetrated by Anglo Brit filth posing as credible business people. Complete and utter lack of judgement on the part of Cynulliad ministers and their useless civil service entourages must, of course, shoulder much of the responsibility, as a hard headed robust policy led by sane people would have shown the door to examples such as the one you cite.

  15. Anonymous

    I’m all for tradition but this blog peers through rose tinted glasses to a time of no relevance to the 21st century. We might support the the same football and rugby teams but there’s little else Jac’s bloggers have in common with ordinary Welsh people or should I say “the people of Wales”

    The thought of an independent Wales run by people like Royston Jones and Gwilym ab Loan is horrific to a mixed mongrel like me but to be fair I’m sure they’d see me safely ushered across the border to a new life. I’m afraid I didn’t do Cymraeg at school the only word I know is diolch and I don’t want to embrace “Cymru culture” whatever that is??? I don’t believe Glyndwr was a freedom fighter he was an upper class chancer who took a gamble then ran away like the coward he was. I’m happy speaking English in my English speaking town where people support Wales at sport as fervently as any, then wake up the next morning British again

    Diolch

    1. “I don’t believe Glyndwr was a freedom fighter he was an upper class chancer who took a gamble then ran away like the coward he was.” Do you want to explain that.

      But then, I suppose someone writing as ‘anonymous’ would know about cowardice.

      I see that you posted a comment earlier today as ‘C and T’. So you’re a troll as well as a coward.

      1. Anonymous

        Yes, don’t kid yourself there were freedom fighters in the 15th century, powerful men used the peasantry to build their own power bases. Glyndwr was loyal to the king until a land dispute he mixed in high circles and was no common rebel. He sacked Welsh towns and fought with and against Welsh and Englishmen. I don’t swallow goo eyed nationalist bollocks regarding Wales’ most notorious coward who let his family perish to save his own skin but then again cowardice runs through the veins of Welsh nationalists Gwynfor Evans allowed other young able bodied men to die for his freedom during possibly the only war in history without acceptable grounds not to lend a hand, even if only a stretcher bearer. Talking of cowardice someone told me about a FWA man who got spooked and ran away to Ireland….name slips my memory?

        1. I spent the Investiture period in Ireland, along with three other nationalists, because we were being followed 24 hours a day. There was nothing we could have done in Wales. Wales had never seen blanket security like that before or since. As for you, C, I’d be careful who you speak to, and what you repeat. Somebody might be using you. And don’t come back here.

        2. dafis

          in 1969 “running away” to Ireland or anywhere else for that matter was a good move especially when Jock Wilson and his squad was going into its “round up anyone” phase due to political pressures from the likes of George Thomas. Indeed your self descriptive rant sounds so much like the sort of crap that the deviant oddball used to trot out as some kind of self defensive mantra. The real crime with him was that no one thought of telling the truth about his filthy habits until it was posthumous, bit like all those other Anglo Brit politicians who have indulged their perversions while slagging off honest held ideals.

      2. dafis

        Jac
        Thanks for that bit of info about “C and T” , I suppose all we need do is insert U and N in between and we have a succinct description of our “refreshing” correspondent. There again, I’m being unfair to Cnuts because they are useful while C & T / Anon doesn’t seem to be much use to anyone, wallowing around in his tub of inferiority complexes and ethnic prejudice.

        England for ever ! , ……… as long as it stays on t’other side of Clawdd Offa, and if that’s where you feel welcome stay there.

      3. Big Gee

        He is evidently a troll

        I suggest you don’t dignify his childish attempts with a reply Jac. It’s your blog and your choice, but I would suggest a lock-out for his kind. There are more important matters to discuss than wasting time on bored & child-like ignoramuses.They are two a penny in any lager lout watering hole.

        By the way it’s IOAN you clown not Loan – says it all really.

        1. dafis

          Ah Ha Gwilym you’ve been found out – you are Gwilym the Loan shark, the infamous Ceredigion hustler, the Mynydd Bach money man who stands as the envy of the infamous Square Mile ( with a branch at Cors Tregaron, not that squalid mire in London.)

          Anyway enough of this levity. I see your erstwhile colleagues ( churlish to call the old mates ) in Plaid are waking up to the deceit at Cantref. Touch late but better late than never, although how they propose to deal with the involvement of some of their own will make interesting viewing. Perhaps this will be Edwards’ chance to exercise some influence over the wets down the Bay.

          1. Big Gee

            Shit – the secret’s out! Should have stuck to laundering money for the Cardi dairymen in London! Nice little racket that while it lasted – selling Thames water in milk bottles to the cockneys!

            Yes, Plaid will have a yawn, a stretch, apply themselves half heartedly to the problem and then disappear back behind the sofa I guess.

  16. dafis

    Off topic, that Pilger tweet in your right hand column is essential reading. MSM & other lackeys of the big corporate/government/bankster elites will never write this stuff. I said right at the outset that Serbia was being slammed as a means of advancing some very offensive “Western” policies led by the criminal Bliar and his bent mates like George Robertson ( where is he now ? still molesting kids or has he moved on to new hobbies ? ) That campaign, which started when Bill ( suck it luv ) Clinton was boss, led on to the atrocities of Bush/Bliar and their successor hoods and soon if the bastards can rig it we’ll have Mrs Clinton running the show, the biggest witch since they stopped writing fairy tales.

    Oh dear they haven’t stopped writing fairy tales, now really moving into the nasty horror fiction genre. Media are still trotting out all sorts of old bollocks about our “allies” Turkey, how people like Putin and Trump are dangerous and subversive, and even dear old Corbyn whose backbone is regarded as suspect when faced with “tough” decisions like murdering kids, women, old folks and unarmed men. And guys like Owen Smith will carry on spouting horseshit trusting that we don’t see his aspiration to be the next standard bearer for the military industrial complex.

    1. Brychan

      I see the National Trust of England and Wales want grants to destroy Afon Conwy, can’t find the money to keep framing in Cumbria, yet they’ve just launched an appeal to raise £7.1million to buy a tiny silver paint box, a pair of hairbrushes from millionaire Randolph Churchill. Apparently, these artefacts are ‘national treasure’ as they once belonged to Randolf’s great granddad, Winston.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-37271292

      Dame Helen Ghosh, director-general of the National Trust, said it was one of the “biggest appeals we have ever made”.

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